Water has always been a crucial part of the landscape. Functionally, the needs for water supply, waste disposal and navigation, alongside the risk of flooding, have long shaped locational choices for settlements. ‘Stakeholder engagement’, ‘public participation’, ‘customer involvement’ and ‘civic action’ are some of the many terms used to refer to processes in which the public interact with a policy decision relating to the environment. They are applied most frequently to refer to the collation of public views in order to impact on a policy decision. Collating public views and knowledge to achieve ‘public participation’ in water-related decisions can offer some distinct substantive advantages to water managers. The Five Weirs Walk is another story that begins some 30 years ago, in the 1980s. It focused on the River Don, just downstream of Sheffield, in a part of the city that suffered profound de-industrialisation and dereliction in the 1980s.